Major upgrades of Gore Bay airport to continue

Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport

Inflationary costs require that project be scaled back slightly

GORE BAY—While the major rehabilitation, renovation and upgrade work to be carried out on the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport is still going to go ahead, what had been originally planned has had to be scaled back somewhat. This is because of increases in construction costs and materials over the past couple of years. The federal government has indicated that, even with inflation having increased the costs of everything, they will not be providing additional funds for the project.

“The project is still moving ahead, even though the costs are higher than we had originally projected, due to inflation,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne. He noted that a progress meeting was held recently among the airport partner municipalities (Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee and Mills) and Exp. engineering consultants who are carrying out the design work for the project.

“We had a progress meeting, and the terminal project has had to be downsized a little to meet the budget costs,” said Mayor Osborne. “The architect said that, two years ago, the construction work would have averaged $250-300 per square foot, but now, because of inflation and cost increases during the pandemic, that has increased to about $500 per square foot. So, we have had to do a little downsizing of the overall footprint (including the proposed multi-purpose room and a couple of offices). But the design will allow for expansion at both ends of the building, possibly in the future.”

“So we are asking the architects to look at the same design concept, with a slightly smaller footprint,” said Mayor Osborne.

“The federal government knows that costs have increased but they have told us (town of Gore Bay) there’s no extra funding available for the project,” said Mayor Osborne. “On any project like this there is no doubt that costs have increased with what has happened in the past couple of years (with the pandemic). The cost of everything has increased.”

“It’s simple, we have to stay within the budget. Building costs have gone up about 30 percent or more, so we have had to decrease the footprint of the project a little,” said Ken Noland, Reeve of Burpee and Mills. “I know our municipality is not going to be putting more money in than we have already agreed to.”

Even with cutbacks, “it will still be a pretty nice building,” stated Mr. Noland.

Lee Hayden, Reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island and chair of the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport Commission told The Expositor after the recent meeting, “we have handed it back to the design engineers to provide the drawings and to stay within the original budget set.” 

“We reviewed what the projected costs had been and known increases, with construction and material costs having increased a minimum of 30 percent. The costs were substantially over what had been budgeted for,” said Mr. Hayden.

Mr. Hayden said it is still hoped the airport project construction can begin this spring. “Once we have the final drawings, this will go out to tender for construction. The project is definitely moving ahead, but we stressed to the design team (Exp) to stay within the budget that has been set. Regardless, it’s still going to be a beautiful building.”

With the $4.2 million project, the federal and provincial governments are providing $3,966,497 for the project, while the Western Manitoulin communities of Gore Nay, Gordon/Barrie Island, and Burpee and Mills will together contribute $282,473.

In July 2020, the federal government announced it was providing funding of $3,966,497 toward the rehabilitation of the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport, including a new air terminal, helipad, expansion of the secondary runway and enhancements to security and wildlife fencing.